Straight Talk about Mesothelioma, a blog series created by Michael T. Milano, M.D., Ph.D., a radiation oncology specialist, as a resource for mesothelioma patients and their loved ones.
While a confirmed diagnosis of mesothelioma can be devastating, there are steps both patients and loved ones can take to ease their stress and anxiety.
In the short-term:
Join a Support Group
Support groups can be a vital source of comfort for patients who may be coping with a diagnosis of mesothelioma. Simply having an opportunity to connect with others — whether in person or online — who are undergoing similar experiences can do wonders for a person’s mental and emotional well-being. Your mesothelioma care team will likely be able to connect you with support groups in your area. If you are more comfortable connecting with people online, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF) offers Facebook support groups.
Get Help with Side Effects
Regardless of the type of treatment you receive for your mesothelioma, you are likely to experience side effects that can include fatigue, pain, and nausea. Speak with your doctor about ways to ease these symptoms, and reach out to your health insurance company to determine if you have coverage for home health aid visits as well as any equipment, such as a hospital bed, that may improve your comfort.
Make Your Home a Safe and Comfortable Haven
At some point in your mesothelioma treatment, you may find yourself relying on a walker, a wheelchair, and/or a portable oxygen tank. Set up your home in advance to accommodate these and other types of equipment you may need. Rearranging furniture to provide ample clearance, putting railings around beds and toilets, and removing area rugs are a few easy “fixes” that will help to prevent unnecessary trip-and-fall accidents. Your insurance may cover a home health assessment, often provided by community in-house nurse services, to help assess your needs and suggest things you can do to make your home safer. In addition, consider enlisting the help of neighbors, friends, members of your faith-based community, or a paid home health aid to come in during the week to help with such chores as cooking, cleaning, laundry, and bill paying to keep your home in good running order.
Longer term, you will want to put your financial and personal affairs in order. This means making sure you have put in place a Power of Attorney, a healthcare proxy, have finalized your will, and spoken with family members about your wishes for end-of-life treatment options. While the subject is somber, it can be quite comforting knowing everything has been taken care of in advance.
Next blog in this series: “Common Misconceptions about Mesothelioma”